I didn’t practice. I procrastinated. I had family/friends visiting. I didn’t listen to the music I was learning. I’ll cancel/postpone my lesson. I feel bad already so I’m going to make myself feel worse by adding more guilt to the mix.
It you take lessons regularly, you will know how hard it can be to:
- Make time for practice
- Practice at all – even at a time you’ve set aside to do this.
A lot of this complication is tied up in the fact that there are too many things needing our attention in one day. That is a whole other post, but regardless, guilt is a wasted emotion. Guilt is tied up in baggage. Baggage weighs you down and stops you from getting ahead. Steven Pressfield calls avoidance of particular task/creative act ‘resistance’. He wrote a fantastic book about it called The War of Art – it’s a quick read and all of it is true.
There are several paths away from the guilt of avoidance of a particular task or practice:
- Start small so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by this change in your weekly routine. I usually recommend to any beginner student to aim for 3x per week for about 15 minutes. This is easy enough to add to your routine. Add 5 minutes every week or two until you are practicing about 30-45 minutes depending on your age and skill level.
- Don’t ‘wait for inspiration’ to practice. Set a time and do it. You may surprise yourself and end up practicing longer!
- Reward yourself each week in some special way for having achieved your practice goals. This might include buying a new song from itunes or a piece of music, a specialty coffee or tea from your favorite place, you get the idea.
- Keep a practice journal – I know, I know, this is IN ADDITION to practice. Make it 5 minutes of your practice time – jot down a few notes about what you sang and how you think things went, along with any questions you have for your teacher/mentor.
- Stop feeling guilty. Period. Life is life and you prioritize what you think and choose to do is important. If it’s important for you to do ‘x’ instead of practicing, then you have made that decision and stick to it. Consequences might include you not being as prepared for your lesson as you wished, but guilt will not help anything or anyone.
- Related to #5. Be confident in your choices. If you choose to practice – shut the door, set a timer, and ask anyone else in the house not to disturb you.
Ultimately, it is up to YOU. Your choices shape your day-to-day decisions that have larger impacts over a longer period of time. Go forth, practice, and be happy in your choices!